How being stateless makes you poor

A London graduate's thesis story has been picked up by international magazine Foreign Policy

2016.07.11 | Bettina Andersen

Photo: Charly Aliaga Kavelin, taken in Colombia by (Mundus Journalism student) Marthe Vee

In today's world, a lack of citizenship isn't just a political problem — it's also an economic one. This is the arguement Jennifer Guay makes for her Foreign Policy article How Being Stateless Makes You Poor. The Canadian, who graduates from City University London this month along with the rest of the 2014-2016 cohort, successfully pitched part of her thesis to the heavy-weight international magazine. Congratulations Jennifer on this achievement! We asked her a few questions about the story, originally completed for her dissertation:

What was the topic of your overall thesis?

The topic was the economics behind statelessness, with a main focus on the discrepancy between the income-generating ability of non-citizens versus citizens. The project also touched upon the effects of widespread statelessness on larger economics and the fast-evolving passport market, which allows the mega-rich to effectively buy citizenship from a growing variety of European and Caribbean countries. 

What was the inspiration for the project?

Before coming to the Mundus programme I worked as a correspondent at the UN in New York, and became fascinated with statelessness - and the dearth of media coverage surrounding the issue - while I was there. I never got the chance to explore the issue in depth, so the thesis project seemed like the ideal opportunity to do so.  

Did you do any field work for the thesis, or where did you conduct research?

I interviewed stateless people in Colombia and the Netherlands for the project, but otherwise everything was done remotely.

How did the story with Foreign Policy come together?

I pitched the story to Christian Caryl, who runs the FP's Democracy Lab, after doing some light stalking and realising that he has an interest in the subject. It took a few conversations to sell him on the merits of the story - and I had to painstakingly edit down by about 4,500 words - but he and his sub-editor were extremely helpful.  

Thanks for the insights Jennifer and congratulations on your achievement! Jennifer is currently based in London and works as a freelance journalist. 

Photo: Charly Aliaga Kavelin, taken in Colombia by (Mundus Journalism student) Marthe Vee

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